This week's new releases, from Jarvis Cocker and Graham Coxon, reviewed just for you. Here's what we thought
5/5 Further Complications From the first razorblade notes of Cocker’s second solo effort, it’s obvious that our hero’s found himself in odd company indeed. Teaming the fey fop up with Steve Albini, the sonic troll behind Nirvana’s ear-busting In Utero, could only have made sense to the most disjointed of minds, but the insanity works – so joyously, in fact, that we ought to take a moment and give thanks for this strange union.
Second track ‘Angela’ is pure garage hedonism, sanded down with the kind of rough-hewn harmonies Elvis Costello once traded in, and it sets the tone perfectly. If it wasn’t for the distinctive Cocker moan and the usual grimy observations (‘She’s nearly 23/making £4.50 an hour/complimentary shower’), you’d be hard pressed to say who this actually is.
The album moves on at frantic pace: ‘Pilchard’ is all glam stomp, spiked with the kind of audio experimentation that sounded far out in 1973. Keeping to the stylistic map, ‘Leftovers’ sounds like Van Morrison might have if he’d thrown in his lot with The Spiders From Mars.
The award for best track undoubtedly goes to ‘I Never Said I Was Deep’, in which Cocker’s fondness for the common loser reaches right in through your ears and has a good fiddle with your melancholia valves.
Further Complications is not without its filler (see the Roxy Music wannabe, ‘Homewrecker!’), but it’s so well put together that you have to sit back and wonder at what he’s managed. He’s only gone and made the first album in years that demands listening from start to finish, programmable playlists be damned. Jon Wilks Available online at www.7digital.com.
4/5 Metamorphosis All the press surrounding Blur’s eagerly anticipated summer comeback has made it easy to overlook the release of Graham Coxon’s seventh solo LP. The concept album – produced by long-time Blur and Coxon collaborator Stephen Street – follows the life of a man from birth to death, with each song representing a various chapter of his life.
As far as we’re concerned, Graham Coxon has always been one of the most gifted guitarists of his generation, and The Spinning Top is another fine example, with Coxon deftly channelling his skills through acoustic, rock, folk and punk tracks, with his awkward-yet-likeable vocals only making his music more listenable. Indeed, with their rich Nick Drake-esque guitars, ‘Brave The Storm’ and first single ‘Sorrow’s Army’ capture Coxon’s best effort to date. And, while it’s primarily a folk/acoustic album, fragments of Blur’s Britpop era shine through on ‘Dead Bees’ and ‘Humble Man’.
But newcomers who’ve had their interests piqued by Blur’s comeback may find the album heavy going At 15 tracks the album’s a little self-indulgent. Having the eight-minute ‘In The Morning’ as the third track is especially ballsy.
Ultimately, though, the album is tremendous, and the three-year gap between The Spinning Top and Love Travels At Illegal Speeds has clearly given Coxon the courage to develop himself and his music. Let’s hope that the upcoming Blur reunion doesn’t result in a backslide. Victoria Parkey Available online at www.7digital.com.